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Amaryllidaceae (Onions and Leeks)

             Mushrooms and Leeks - Sharon Nelson
             Cleaning Leeks - Kyle Lerfald
             Leek Coulis
             Onion Soup With Beer - Susan Collicot
             Onions in Hot Sauce - Roberta Lovatelli
             Baking the Onions First - Dick McEachern
             Pickled Onions - John Meyn
             Some hints on French Onion soup - Bob Saldeen
             A Sop of Onions
             Outback Bloomin' Onion - Susan Wenger
Shallots, Spring Onions and Scallions
             Gerry Strey
             Robin Welch
             Roger Marsh
             Bill Nyden

Mushrooms and Leeks - Sharon Nelson
My favorite, from To the King's Taste by Lorna J. Sass. It was adapted from a recipe in The Forme of Cury, written in Richard II's day. It's pretty quick to prepare (except for the "washing the leeks" part of course ... alas I have also found the ones I can get here are inevitably gritty).
Mushrooms and Leeks (serves 4-6)
8 small leeks
3 tbs. butter
1 1/2 lbs. large mushrooms, quartered
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. saffron
1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger ("fresh" is important; powdered dried ginger won't do it)
Beurre manie: 3 tbs. soft butter combined with 3 tbs. white flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Wash leeks carefully and slice them into rings, discarding roots and green tops.
2. Saute leeks in butter in a large heavy skillet until they begin to wilt. Then add mushrooms and toss to coat.
3. Combine stock, sugar, saffron, and ginger, and pour the liquid over vegetables.
4. Simmer covered for about 2 minutes.
5. Add beurre manie, stirring rapidly over a low flame until liquid thickens and vegetables are evenly glazed.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cleaning Leeks - Kyle Lerfald
The cleaning's the fun part, though. Take a sharp pointy knife, hold the leek out in front of you by the bottom, shove the knife into the center as low as you can balance, blade pointed up towards the top of the leek. Slash straight up through the thing and out the top, keeping the knife in the middle all the way up. Rinse out the sand between the layers. Then, turn the leek a bit, and do it again. Stick! Slash! Up and out!
It'll look like a palm tree when you're done, but it'll be clean and you'll feel calm and rested for hours.

Leek Coulis
A coulis is a thick sauce made of puréed fruit or vegetables.
1 tablespoon [15 mL] butter
1 leek, cut into cubes [approximately 1 1/2 cups - 375 mL]
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup [60 mL] freshly chopped parsley
1/2 cup [125 mL] dry white wine
1 tablespoon [15 mL] cornstarch
1 1/2 cups [375 mL] cream [10%]
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons [30 mL] freshly chopped coriander [optional]
Melt butter; brown together leek cubes, minced garlic and chopped parsley, for 2 minutes.
Pour in dry withe wine; bring to a boil and boil liquid until reduced to 1 tablespoon [15 mL].
Mix together cornstarch and cream; stir into leek mixture.
Cook over low heat, stirring, until thickened.
Salt and pepper.
If desired, stir in freshly chopped coriander.
Puree mixture in blender. Reheat.

Onion Soup With Beer - Susan Collicot
6 medium onions (2 to 2.5 lbs)
0.5 cup butter
2 cloves garlic (I use about a quarter of the amount of garlic but then I'm a garlic wimp)
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon paprika
12 oz dark beer
8 cups Beef Stock (from the book) or canned regular strength beef broth
6 to 8 slices french bread, cut about 1 inch thick (I actually use a sourdough bread, that I pick up that same day at the Pike Place Market)
6 to 8 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
0.5 to 0.75 pound Swiss cheese, shredded (2 to 3 cups)
Cut onion in half lengthwise, then cut across the grain into lengthwise slivers. In a 5 to 6 quart kettle over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions, cover, and cook until limp (about 10 minutes). Uncover and cook, stirring often, until onions are lightly browned (about 15 minutes). Reduce heat to medium low if onions begin to brown too quickly.
Mince or press one of the garlic cloves. Add mince garlic, four, and paprika to onions, stirring to blend flour into mixture. Remove from heat and gradually stir in beer and 2 cups of the stock. Return to heat and bring to a boil, stirring. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place bread slices on a baking sheet. Peel remaining clove of garlic, cut it in half, and with it rub both sides of each bread slice. Bake in 325 degree Fahrenheit oven until crisp and lightly browned (40 minutes). Sprinkle each slice with 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan cheese. [Note: I often skip this step, as I don't appreciate lots of cheese on the bread.]
After soup has simmered for 1 hour, add remaining 6 cups stock; bring to a gentle boil. Season to taste with salt/pepper.
Divide soup among ovenproof bowls. Top each with a slice of toasted French bread. Sprinkle Swiss cheese over bread slices. Place bowls on a baking sheet about 6" below broiler. Broil until the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned. Serve at once.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings (10 to 12 cups).
Susan's note: Often skip the garlic Parmesan step on the bread. But definitely toast the bread gives the bread some form, even after soaking in the soup. Too many places plop an untoasted slice down on the soup, and it turns to goo. I also like to use whole slices of Swiss, and other cheeses, combined on top instead of shreds. Depends on who is coming over, or if it's just me. Also, I will frequently leave a lot of the cooked onions in the pot sometimes I just want a few in the bowl. Then I use the leftover onions and broth for the start of a stew or pot roast the next night, or even for french dip sandwiches.
Sometimes I leave out the beer, and substitute a cooking wine, just for fun. I play around with this recipe a lot, leaving out the garlic and trying different herbs and such. I usually use canned beef stock, as I don't have the patience to make it myself.
The book's recipe for Beef Stock is:
The bones and vegetables in this recipe are first roasted to give the stock a brown color and a rich flavor. For the best flavor, use knuckle bones with some meat attached. If possible, use a mixture of beef soup bones and veal knuckle bones; the combination will make a more flavorful stock, with the veal bones also serving as a natural thickener. Meat scraps, completely trimmed of fat, can be added to the stock during the last quarter of cooking time.
4 lbs beef soup bones, chopping in a few pieces by the butcher [love that note! "don't try this at home" sort of tone. Hee hee.]
2 medium onions, unpeeled, root end cut off, quartered
2 medium carrots, scrubbed but not peeled, quartered
2 stalks celery, cut in approx 2" pieces
2 bay leaves
10 stems parsley (without leaves)
4 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
0.5 teaspoon black peppercorns
0.5 teaspoon dried thyme
16 cups (approx) cold water
Preheat oven to 450 F. Roast bones in a roasting pan, turning occasionally with a slotted metal spatula, until they begin to brown (about 30 minutes). Add onions, carrots, and celery; roast until browned (about 30 minutes).
Drain off fat. With a slotted spatula, transfer bones and vegetables to a stockpot, kettle, or other large pot. To ingredients in stockpot add bay leaves, parsley stems, garlic, peppercorns, thyme, and enough of the cold water to cover.
Bring just to a boil. Add a little more cold water to reduce to below boiling; stir once. Bring back just to a boil and reduce heat to very low so that liquid bubbles very gently. Skim off foam that collects on surface. Partially cover and cook, skimming foam and fat occasionally, for 4 to 6 hours. During first 2 hours of cooking, add hot water occasionally to keep ingredients covered.
Strain stock through a colander lined with several thicknesses of dampened cheese cloth, discarding solids. If stock is not to be used immediately, cool to lukewarm. Refrigerate until fat rises to surface and congeals (8 hours). If stock will be used within 3 to 5 days, leave fat; skim fat when ready to use. If stock is to be frozen, skim fat.

Onions in Hot Sauce - Roberta Lovatelli
2 large Bermuda onions
3 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
3 Tbs Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp salt
Peel and slice very thin. Cover with boiling water, drain and rinse with cold water. Mix the oil, vinegar, Tabasco and salt in a bowl. Add the onion slices, marinate at room temperature for 2-3 hours.

Baking the Onions First - Dick McEachern
I get a darker, richer result if I roast the onions in thick slices in the oven using the broiler very carefully. Gruyere works better than plain old generic swiss cheese for melting.
Many years ago my mother had onion soup for the first time, loved it and asked what kind of cheese was on the top. The waitress replied. . . au gratin.

Pickled Onions - John Meyn
Ploughmans Lunch: bread, cheese and pickled onions
Peel the onions, (I do this while wearing an industrial gas mask) cover them with salt and stand for 24hrs. then rinse off the salt. This removes some of the water from the Pickling vinegar.
Boil together for 1\2 hour, 1 quart of malt vinegar diluted with 1/2 pt of water, 2 red chillies, a few peppercorns, allspice, mace, cloves and a handful of Demarera sugar.
Allow to cool.

Some Hints On French Onion Soup - Bob Saldeen
There's nothing like french onion soup made with Vidalia onions--it's like a different experience altogether. Vidalias come out pretty soon--you start seeing them in the late spring. Unfortunately, about the time the Vidalias come out, it's near the end of the hot broiled soup season.
Havarti is also a good choice for the cheese.
We go past being garlic wimps--can't stand the stuff. No garlic in ours.
Like Susan, we use sourdough too. It's a great combo.
You can't rush that simmering stage--the longer the better.

A Sop of Onions
(R.A. Beebe Sallets, Humbles and Shrewsbury Cakes)
1/2 cup butter
4 large onions, sliced into rings
salt and pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Melt the butter in a deep frying pan and add onions. Saute over low heat, stirring frequently, until the onions soften. Add salt and pepper to taste, sour cream and nutmeg. Heat thoroughly, but do not boil, or the cream will curdle. Serve as is, or add broth and serve as a soup. Serves 4.

Outback Bloomin' Onion - Susan Wenger
Here's an approximation of the recipe: Outback Bloomin' Onion
3 cups cornstarch
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsps garlic salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
24 oz. beer
4-6 colossal onions 4" diameter or larger
seasoned flour, as needed
1 quart creamy chili sauce
Mix cornstarch, flour and seasonings until well blended, add beer, mix well.
Cut about 3/4" off top of onion, peel onion.
Cut onion into 12-16 wedges, but do not cut through bottom. Remove about 1" of "petals" from center of onion.
Place onions in ice water for about 15 minutes. This will help the petals spread out a bit and keep the onion crisp during deep fry. Shake off excess water when removing from ice water.
Dip cut onion in seasoned flour and remove excess by shaking: dip in batter and remove excess by gently shaking.
Separate petals to coat thoroughly with batter.
Gently place onion in fryer basket and deep fry at 375-400 degrees for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until golden brown.
Seasoned flour:
Combine 2 c. Flour, 4 tsps paprika, 3 tsps. Garlic powder, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Creamy chili sauce
Combine 1 pint mayonnaise and sour cream, 1/2 c. Chili sauce and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. Add 1/4 c. Horseradish (optional).

Shallots, Spring Onions and Scallions
Gerry Strey
Shallots have always seemed nothing special - certainly not different enough from scallions or a good sweet onion to warrant their absurd price.

Robin Welch
Shallots are a much milder onion taste for soups that would be overpowered by a yellow onion.
I'd put yellow onion in a pot of chili where you want it rough, so to speak, and shallots in a cream of celery soup where you want it fine.

Roger Marsh
Scallions (which they are spring onions to us Brits, limeys or poms) are also an excellent and versatile vegetable but different - I would not normally substitute them for shallots if cooking bavette aux échalottes, though, any more than I would substitute shallots for spring onions / scallions if they should be what a particular Chinese stir-fry needs.

Bill Nyden
Which I like to add green (spring) onions sauteed in canola* oil to green salads (lettuce, arugula or whatever). I calls 'em rap'scallions.
*Which canola is made from rape seeds.